Seven Things This Creative Teacher Can’t Live Without
“I would jingle off of these songs, and teachers would hear me and ask if I could come to their classroom,” Bridgette says. “I would take my keyboard and CD player, and they loved it. It became so popular that I went into the studio and recorded five songs, and I have a book to go with each one.
Bridgette Johnson has long had a passion for working with kids. Beginning with being a stay-at-home mom to her five children, to volunteering with her church’s vacation Bible school and Sunday school programs, to ultimately becoming a school teacher, kids have been at the center of her life. In 2000, Bridgette was hired as a substitute teacher at McFerran Elementary, kickstarting her career with Jefferson County Public Schools. At the age of 45, after working as a substitute for 11 years, she went back to school to obtain an associate degree in early childhood education and in 2014 earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development. Bridgette is now pursuing a master’s degree to obtain her teacher certification from Campbellsville University, while working as a full-time teacher at Du Valle Education Center.
Had you asked Bridgette 25 years ago if she would someday be an incredibly innovative, accomplished school teacher — and DJ BJ — chances are her answer would have been no. Originally, Bridgette went to cosmetology school and worked as a hairdresser for years, something she says she truly enjoyed. As time progressed, her interest in working with kids grew, and friends and family encouraged her to pursue her passion. With all signs pointing toward the education field, she was prompted to take on her substitute-teaching role and never looked back.
“Even though I loved doing hair, it was time consuming, and I had to stand on my feet all day,” Bridgette says. “When I started subbing, I just started having a lot of compassion for the kids, and I saw a lot of opportunity of things to do with them. I didn’t know I had the gift of workmanship until I started subbing. I would make giant Mickey Mouse cutouts and games and it just kept going and going. Then I started taking songs the kids would know and turning them into something like an ABC song.”
Bridgette’s journey to becoming DJ BJ has led to the creation of her superhero characters Mighty Manners and Etta-Kitt. She uses these characters to teach kids the importance of manners, good behavior, and general life skills through song and story. Bridgette’s innovative teaching methods led to founding her own business in 2016 called Creatively Invented, an edutainment and publishing company that specifically designs innovative and zany products and services for children and adults of all ages. Under Creatively Invented LLC, Bridgette is also a trainer for the Division of Childcare and a credentials specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, DC.
The seven things Bridgette can’t live without have all played a pivotal role in her achievements as an educator.
Prayer and Meditation
There are two passages of scripture Bridgette leans on, Matthew 19:26 and Psalm 32.
“I just like using prayer and meditation in order to get direction on what I’m supposed to do,” Bridgette says. “I’m dealing with so many children and my business. I like to open my Bible and pray the word and ask God for direction because I’m responsible for so much in the lives of children and my own family.”
Music and Movement
As DJ BJ, music has obviously played a huge role in the development of her teaching methods.
“A lot of the curriculum that we have is stagnant, not bad, but everything stands still,” Bridgette says. “I think kids need that left brain, right brain movement, they need excitement and motivation. If they come in the room and I’m just bland and nonchalant, I think they pick it up. I’ve had children who act terribly on the bus and as soon as they enter the classroom, and I’ve got a song playing it just changes them. It teaches them how to be innovative, and I think it works because there is an element of surprise in everything I do.”
My Assistant Dream Chasers
Bridgette is blessed with five beautiful children, a loving husband, and three sisters-in-law who cheer her on. She also works with Cera Group LLP, an educational consultancy group who has assisted with various aspects of her business.
“(My family) listens to all of my ideas, they move my stuff, and help me in the classroom, and my husband builds things for me when I need them for the classroom,” Bridgette says. “They’ve been very supportive of me, my business, and my ideas.”
Master Builders Academy
Every other Saturday Bridgette’s church, Christ Temple Christian Life Center, offers a business and personal development program called Master Builders Academy. Bridgette credits this program with helping her home in on her ultimate vision for Creatively Invented LLC.
“I’ve learned to be punctual, to be dependable, to be excellent, to be detailed, passionate and motivated, hungry and studious…getting the unconditional support and learning how to run a business every week has been phenomenal,” Bridgette says.
“I like to dress for success every day,” Bridgette says. “I feel like I was born to impact millions so I’m just trying to dress for where I’m going…It does something for the children too when they see that I care about my appearance. We’ll go back and forth with compliments. I told one of the boys I was going to see him on TV and he told me, ‘No, Mrs. Johnson, I’m going to see you on TV!’”
Helping Other People
“I’m always for the underdog,” Bridgette says. “I’m an extreme couponer, and I don’t keep a lot of my products. I take them to different centers to donate…I have compassion for people who are without and I try to put myself in other people’s shoes and give back…I try to make something good happen for somebody every day.”
In addition to running a business, teaching, going to school, and volunteering in her free time, Bridgette finds time to develop inventions and prototypes. She is a member of Hackerspace and inventors.org.
“Whether it’s in the classroom, in the community, at home, or creating products and books to go with my songs, I’m always thinking up new ideas…I will come up with an invention one of these days and my daughter says it’ll sell for $19.95!”